USS RONALD REAGAN, Arabian Sea (NNS) -- Navy hospital corpsmen aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) celebrated their birthday June 17, commemorating 113 years of aiding sick or injured service members around the world.
"This is one of those days where we drop anchor and share personal stories and reflect how corpsmen can impact people's lives," said Ronald Reagan's Command Master Chief (AW/SW/SS) Mark Rudes, a former Hospital Corpsman. "Having spent the earlier years of my career as a corpsman, it's great to be able to be a part of that reflection."
The celebration began with an invocation, followed by a recount of the history of the rating presented by the ship's 30 Hospital Corpsmen.
"The ceremony was moving, emotional and it made me proud," said Chief Hospital Corpsman Andy Lista. "It brings to light what corpsmen stand for and what they're expected to do because of their rate."
Sergeant Major Jean-Paul Courville, a combat-decorated Marine with Marine Strike Fighter Squadron (VMFA) 323, gave a personal and detailed account of combat interaction and the vital role corpsmen play on the battlefield, emphasizing the close bond that exists between Marines and their corpsman.
"The foundation of a Marine and Navy Corpsman surpasses that of brotherhood," said Courville. "A Marine will stand at deaths door knowing that the Navy Corpsman on their right, left, and six o' clock are well equipped and prepared to save their life; it's a remarkable relationship that has stood through numerous engagements on the battlefield."
Birthday messages from the Commandant of the Marine Corps General James A. Amos and Hospital Corps Force Master Chief L.A. Martinez were read before the ceremony ended with a traditional cake cutting.
"I love this job," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Edward Dikitanan, who helped plan the event. "I feel as long as we make a difference in someone's health and life, it's a special type of bond and relationship that we create with each person, each Sailor or Marine that we take care of. It feels very special to know you've helped someone else."
Throughout its history, the Hospital Corpsman rating has been, and still is, the most highly decorated enlisted rating in the Navy. Since 1898, Navy corpsmen have earned 22 Medals of Honor, along with numerous other personal awards, including the Navy Cross, Silver Star and Purple Heart.
"I love working with corpsmen; I'm their biggest fan," said Capt. Jonathan Stinson, Ronald Reagan's senior medical officer and flight surgeon who has worked beside hospital corpsmen for his entire 14-year Navy career as a Medical Corps Officer. "They are eager to learn; they are knowledge sponges. What I admire most about them is that they are very proud and they have a very honorable tradition. It's a privilege to work with them."
Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is comprised of Ronald Reagan, guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, which includes guided-missile destroyer USS Preble (DDG 88).
Embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 includes the "Black Knights" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154, the "Argonauts" of VFA-147, the "Blue Diamonds" of VFA-146, the "Death Rattlers" of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 323, the "Black Eagles" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113, the "Cougars" of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 139, the "Providers" of Carrier Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30 and the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 4.
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For more news from USS Ronald Reagan, visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn76/.